Monday, December 27, 2010

Dear, Santa...Thank you!

I must have been a very good girl this year. I got everything I asked for...and more! What a wonderful Christmas it was, surrounded by family, friends, and tons of wonderful gifts.

Get excited--I got a Cricut! Stay tuned for some crafty projects by yours truly!

I also got a GPS, an LCD TV, tickets to see Rascal Flatts...the list goes on and on! I am so blessed to have such thoughtful gift givers in my life.

I hope your Christmas was as great as mine was!

Ramen Noodle (Asian) Coleslaw

Here it is, the recipe that's was promised....

Ingredients
2 bags of broccoli slaw
1 small bunch of green onions
2 packages of Ramen noodles; one Oriental, one Chicken
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 canola or vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (this is optional and can be varied depending on preference)
almonds
sunflower seeds (shelled)

Side Note: There are no measurements for the sunflower seeds or almonds because in my opinion, the more the merrier! I use about a cup of almonds and about 3/4 cup of the sunflowers seeds, but again, the more the merrier!

Directions:
1. In a small skillet, roast the almonds and the sunflower seeds. Be very careful not to make One Hot Mess when you are doing this! (Hint: Click the link to read the blog post where I have a roasting fiasco.) Set them aside to cool.

2. In a Ziplock baggie, crush up the Ramen noodles and reserve the flavor packets for the dressing.

3. In a jar or salad dressing container, combine vinegar, oil, sugar, both Ramen seasoning packets, and soy sauce. Shake until mixed.

4. Chop just the white part of the green onions. Reserve the green end for another use.

5. In a large bowl, combine broccoli slaw and chopped onions.

6. Just before serving, add dressing, almonds, sunflower seeds, and Ramen. Toss and serve!

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All That Glitters

Oh man, am I head over heels...for glitter! It seems to be a huge trend this season, and although I have always have an eye for things that glitter, this season it's kicked in to over drive!

From shoes: (Steve Madden "Caryssa" Glitter Platform Pumps)


To craft projects: (Martha Stewart 24-Vial Glitter Multi-Pack)

To great accessories: (Gap Glitter Headband)



It's everywhere! And in the wise words of Mr. Blake Windlow, "that $*!# won't come off!"

I love it! Can't get enough glitter!

PS. I don't (yet) own any of the items pictured above. Dear Santa, I've been a very good girl...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Hot Mess

This morning I was roasting sesame seeds and almonds to put in my Ramen Noodle Coleslaw* (aka Asian Coleslaw). I was roasting them on the stove top, and if you've never done it they roast fairly quickly. It is best to continually shake the pan or stir it gently so that they don't burn.

Well, I got through the sesame seeds just fine; however, it took me THREE tries to get the almonds right. That's what I get for multi-tasking. The first batch got just a little too dark, and I didn't want someone to bite in to an over-roasted almond...so I pitched it.

Round 2 - The almonds came out perfectly. I am just a dumb-dumb. I poured them from the pan directly in to the Ziplock baggie. Uh, duh Lauren, they are hot. They melted right through the bag and spilled all over my kitchen floor. Keep in mind--now I'm going to be late to work because I have to clean up my mess AND roast ANOTHER batch.

Third time's a charm. I roasted them, probably not even enough, but by this time my co-workers are lucky I didn't say, "forget this," and return to bed...

Moral of the story. A heavy duty Ziplock + hot almond slivers = disaster on the kitchen floor.

*stay tuned for recipe on Waldie in the Kitchen

Monday, December 6, 2010

Penne Gorgonzola with Chicken

I haven't tried this one yet...but I will very soon.

Ingredients
1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup Progresso ® Chicken Broth
2 cups (8 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and minced fresh parsley

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in oil on all sides. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add wine, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan.

2. Add cream and broth; cook until sauce is slightly thickened and chicken is no longer pink. Stir in the Gorgonzola cheese, sage, salt and pepper; cook just until cheese is melted.

3. Drain pasta; toss with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and parsley. Yield: 8 servings.

Enjoy!

Original recipe borrowed from Taste of Home.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cricut...not to be confused with cricket.

Ok, I'm obsessed. I have already sent my email to Santa. (Yes, he accepts emails now. Love that he's technologically savvy!) I have heard the term "Cricut" a hundred (maybe more) times. I knew that it was a scrapbooking tool. (I used to scrapbook, but now I don't have the time.) I think I knew it was a die-cutting machine. (If you don't know what that means, you're obviously NOT a scrapbooker...) Somehow, the other day, I came across the Cricut again. I don't even remember what lead me to it, but I do know that it was love at first sight. I quickly sent a shout out to all my Facebook friends to see if any of them were proud Cricut owners. Thankfully, a friend from High School replied and I asked her 10 million (ok, maybe just 10) questions about it. She loves it and she said it can be used for cutting paper, vinyl, and even cloth for sewing! Holy cow--I must have it. So, I promptly got on the 'ol Yahoo and sent off my email to the big man in red. (No, not the Kool-aid guy...SANTA!) I promised him that I had been a good girl and now I just have my fingers crossed that he thinks so, too. Stay tuned for me to go crafting crazy (Hopefully!) with a new Cricut very soon!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Darren Criss of gLee sings "Part of Your World"



Thanks to my always-looking-out-for-me friend Erin for finding and sharing this with me!

Give Thanks

This year I have so many things to be thankful for. I work for a great organization, I moved out of my parents house for the second time, I started Grad School... I've had my share of ups and downs, but all-in-all, I am so blessed. 

This Thanksgiving is going to be different than all the rest-- I'm not with my family. This year I am spending Thanksgiving with Blake and surrounded by many friends, all of which I am thankful for; however, it will be different being away from my parents and siblings. I imagine that as I get older, this will happen more often. Sending many hugs and kisses to Molino, FL!

One thing I am very excited about is to be actively participating in the cooking this year. Normally, I'm in charge of the mashed potatoes, but this year I am responsible for the sweet potatoes and the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. Check out my recipe for Marshmallows with Sweet Potatoes (aka Sweet Potato Casserole) on my cooking blog!

Marshmallows with Sweet Potatoes...aka Whipped Sweet Potato Bake

I have always said I don't like sweet potatoes unless they are mushy and covered in marshmallows. Well, I discovered that I'm a fan of Baked Sweet Potato Fries, but nothing says Thanksgiving like a whipped pan of mushy, delicious, marshmallow-y sweet potatoes.

This recipe uses canned sweet potatoes. I haven't "liked" sweet potatoes long enough to know if fresh ones make a difference...

Ingredients
3 cans (15oz.each) sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. group cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 cups Jet Puffed miniature marshmallows

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350*.
2. Beat potatoes, butter, and spices with mixer until well blended.
3. Spoon in to 1.5 qt. casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with marshmallows.
4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are warmed throughout and marshmallows are browned.

What I did differently:
1. When I make this tomorrow, I will substitute 2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

2. I will use my biggest casserole dish and here's why: I want as much surface area as possible for the marshmallow topping. No bite is worthy unless it's got that white frosting of deliciousness on it...I will also probably use more than 3 cups of marshmallows.

Enjoy!

Original recipe borrowed from Kraft Foods.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ice Cream

I must share...

Bluebell's newest creation-- Cotton Candy Ice Cream. D-E-L-I-S-H. For some reason, it only comes in pint size; however, I am sort of thankful because if it came in gallons I'd be in big trouble.


I have also tried the Spiced Pumpkin Pecan (pictured here) and the Snickerdoodle. Both get an A, but Cotton Candy gets an A+.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bacon-wrapped Cream Cheese Jalapeno Bites

Oh man, I might have to make these this weekend. I've been looking for a recipe for these and this one is simple and looks delicious!


Ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay
Pinch of Salt
12 Jalapenos, halved & seeded
24 – six inch pieces of bacon, uncooked

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Combine cream cheese and spices in small bowl.  Spoon mixture into each pepper half, until level.  Wrap each in bacon, and place on baking sheet. 

3. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy!

Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from Doughmesstic

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Dip

Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup frozen whipped cream, thawed
Gingersnap cookies, apples, or cinnamon graham cracker sticks

Directions
1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.

2. Add in pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger. Mix well.

3. Fold in the thawed whipped cream.

4. Serve with green apples, graham cracker sticks, or gingersnaps.

5. Store in refrigerator.

Here's what I did differently:
1. I wasn't sure when I'd be needing pumpkin again (other than Thanksgiving) so I used the whole can of pumpkin so it wouldn't go to waste.

2. I didn't skip any ingredients, but I failed to read the directions and just tossed everything in the mixing bowl at once. It tasted fine to me...

Enjoy!

Original recipe (and picture) borrowed form The Girl Who Ate Everything

Vegetable Blog

I get excited over the silliest things some days--I just came across a vegetable blog and I wanted to share. The website is called A Veggie Venture and today's post is about how to construct a green bean casserole from scratch.

Enjoy!

Mediterranean Chicken, Bean & Pasta Soup

This recipe is delicious! I made it a few weeks ago, in preparation for the cooler weather. Now that it's cold outside, this is the perfect soup to make you all warm on the inside.

Ingredients
2 tsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 medium carrots, cut into thin half-circles
2 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, finely chopped, including juices
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup ditalini (small, short pasta tubes)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Grated parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add 1 large shallot, minced, 2 medium carrots, cut into half-circles, and 2 large stalk celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Saute until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, finely chopped, with juices, 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth, and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Uncover the soup, remove the bay leaves, add 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, and 1/2 cup ditalini pasta (small, short tubes).

4. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.

5. Season with salt and pepper, add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley and 8 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese.


Here's what I did differently:
1. I bought a pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store deli. I think it was actually more work than just boiling chicken myself and shredding it.

2. I skipped the parsley and basil, only cause I was a little lazy I don't have those herb scissors yet.  

3. I used shaved parmesan instead of grated. It doesn't matter, I just liked it.

4. Just fyi-- I couldn't find the ditalini pasta or the cannellini beans in my regular grocery store. I came across them while picking up dinner at Mandola's one night. Hopefully your supermarket is a little more "cultured."

Enjoy!

Original recipe (and pictures) borrowed from Cookin' Canuck

Baked Sweet Potato French Fries

Lately I have been trying to experiment with new vegetables. I generally will eat any veggie. Except peas. Ick. Oh, or lima beans. Double ick. I am also not really a cauliflower fan...but other than that I love vegetables!

In the past, I have reserved eating sweet potatoes for when they are mashed and coated in marshmallows. A week or so ago, I gave baked sweet potato fries a try and they are great!

Ingredients
4 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for the pan
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Wash sweet potatoes, then cut each potato into thin strips.  Place them into a large bowl and add oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and brown sugar.  Toss to coat potatoes.

3. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil. Sprinkle the baking sheet with remaining salt.  Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet in single layer.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are done.

Here's what I did differently:
1. The sweet potatoes I bought were huge and I only needed enough for two people, so I used a potato and a half, and that was more than enough.

2. Instead of kosher salt I used sea salt. I had both in my pantry, I just went for the sea salt this time.

3. I skipped the brown sugar. I was out and I didn't think they needed it.

4. I almost peeled them by accident. You can if you want, but the skin makes for some crunchy fries--my favorite!

5. You may want to broil them for just a second so that they crunch up. I didn't do it and they were still great, but I'm a crunchy fry-kinda girl.

Enjoy!

Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from Our Family Eats

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Waldie in the Kitchen

There are very few things I am ok with collecting...recipes I can deal with!

Check out my new cooking blog: http://waldieinthekitchen.blogspot.com/

Baked Penne with Spinach, Roasted Peppers & Bacon

Ok, this one was not much of a success for me. I think I was in too big of a hurry and omitted too much.

Ingredients
16 oz. Pacific Natural Foods Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
2 cups 2% milk
4 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 pound penne pasta (or ziti), cooked until tender, but still firm to the bite
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
3/4 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1 1/2 cups cubed Provolone cheese
8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x13-inch pan (or other 2 1/2-quart baking dish) with nonstick spray.

2. Prepare sauce: Heat soup and milk in a medium saucepan until small bubbles begin to form around the edges (just until hot). In a larger saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir well. Continue to cook, stirring, until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly begin adding hot soup/milk mixture to the large saucepan, whisking constantly while adding. Sauce will start out lumpy and become smooth as the liquid is incorporated.

3. Assemble the dish: In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta with the sauce. Break apart the spinach with your fingers and add it to the bowl. Also add red peppers, provolone cheese and 3/4 cup of Parmesan. Stir until ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with bacon crumbles and top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Finish with a good dose of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of kosher salt.

4. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until sauce is bubbling around the edges and the center is hot (about 10 minutes more). Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.


Usually when I edit recipes they turn out ok. This time, not so much. Here's what I did differently:
1. I used whole wheat penne.

2. Instead of frozen, chopped spinach, I sauteed fresh spinach. I think that the moisture in the frozen spinach might actually aid in keeping the dish moist. I just liked the idea of fresh spinach better.

3. I skipped the jarred roasted red peppers. I just wasn't feelin' it.

4. I couldn't find a block of provolone cheese, so I bought sliced provolove cheese and just used about 6 slices cut up.

5. I just eye-balled the parmesan cheese. (See, I told you I was in too big of a hurry.)

I shared the pasta at work the next day, and they were all kind enough to eat it and even compliment it. I think this one has potential.

Enjoy!

Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from RecipeGirl

Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Parmesan

Oh, ick...brussels sprouts?!

Just kidding. I have only eaten brussels sprouts once before I made these, and they had been brought to a company potluck a few years ago by a sweet German woman. So, they were disguised as "good" using lemon, butter, and a few other ingredients... Well, this recipe is no different. They are delicious and they are hidden among cheese, bacon, and butter. Yum.

Ingredients
50 g pancetta or bacon, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cup brussels sprouts, roughly chopped or shredded
1 lemon, both zest and juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon softened butter
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Directions
1. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat,warm olive oil and add pancetta. Stir often, until pancetta begins to brown and crisp.

2. Add shredded sprouts and incorporate into the pancetta and oil, scrapping up any bit on the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until sprouts begin to wilt and turn bright green, about 7-9 minutes.

3. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the pan, season sprouts with salt and pepper and taste. Sprouts should still be a little crunchy.

4. Remove from heat, and toss sprouts with butter, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Here's what I did differently:
1. The recipe calls for "50g" of pancetta. I just picked up a package at the grocery store and used the whole thing. I do recommend that you drain off some of the grease before you add the brussels to the pan.

2. I don't think you really needs an entire tablespoon of butter, after they've been cooked in pancetta fat grease juice. That's your call.

Enjoy!

Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from Simple Bites

Shredded Tex-Mex Crockpot Chicken

I came across this recipe and was hesitant at first--all of those spicy ingredients had me a little nervous, seeing as how I have been accused of thinking ketchup is spicy...but, not to worry. I followed the recipe (almost) exactly and was delighted at the flavor (not spice) that resulted.

Once prepared, this chicken would be great in quesadilla, tacos, nachos, enchiladas, or like I ate it-- in soft tacos with all the fixins'.

Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup (packed) cilantro leaves, chopped
2 limes
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions
1. Heat the oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika and garlic and sauté two more minutes. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth making sure to scrape up any browned bits. Turn off and set aside.

2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to crock pot. Squeeze the lime on top, add the cilantro, jalapeno, and pour the onion and garlic mixture over top.

3. Cook on low for 3-5 hours, or until cooked through (different crock-pots cook at varying heats) and tender. Remove chicken breasts from the crock pot, shred and place in a bowl. Scoop out the onions and add to the chicken. Depending on the amount of juices produced, you may want to add some or all of the juice back to the shredded chicken.

Like I said, I almost followed the recipe. Here's what I did differently:
1. Instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

2. I omitted the cilantro. I really like cilantro, but I was too impatient to take it off the stem and chop it. I really need to buy some herb scissors.

3. When it came time to add the lime, I figured the more the merrier. I sliced up one of the limes and just tossed them in the crockpot while the chicken was cooking. I think it really enhanced the flavor.

Enjoy!

Original recipe borrowed from goodlifeeats

A New Blog

I have for a very long time been collecting recipes and now I am taking a moment to share the ones I find, the ones I try, and the success (or failure) of each one!  
Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

About Me

I have been know to utter the phrase "it's ALL about me" a time or two. Normally, I am kidding. No, really. I would like to think that I am not a selfish person. Sure, we all have selfish tendencies. It's human nature. If it means anything to you, I have a philanthropic heart. If I were rich I'd quit my job and spend my time volunteering and donating to worthy causes.

I was editing my blog when I came across the "About Me" section. I always have a hard time filling this in.  I have such a hard time pinning down just who I am. Today, I decided to just go with it. I came up with this:
I'm a daughter, a sister, a friend...and I'm a Princess. I was born with a crown on my head, a tutu around my waist, and sparkles on my shoes-- and I don't think I'll ever grow out of it. Love me or hate me, you probably want to know "Where's Waldie?"

There are a few reasons I wrote this. I have had several conversations lately with both friends and family members. My question to them was: "How do you raise a child like me?" When I asked my mom, she had no reply. By "child like me" I mean this: I am the epitome of girly girl. I am 25 years old, but if it has a ruffle, a bow, a flower, or a sparkle...I'll probably buy it and wear it. If it's pink, I probably already own it. The other day a childhood friend posted on a Facebook picture of me and she said this, "Lauren, This picture reminds me of when I knew you in elementary school... I remember you always had a pink dress with a matching head band... lol! Hope you had a good birthday!" You probably remember the post about my birthday dress.

Anyway, I love that I love pink. I love that I'm a girly girl. I love that my family thinks I'm a Princess.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ready to Run

This year I am running in the Austin Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5K on November 7th--less than a week away! As you probably know, I am not a runner. I've been training (a little) but I will still have to walk some of it I'm sure. I keep seeing opportunities for people to tell their breast cancer story. For some that's a story of loss. For others it's a triumphant story of victory. I keep thinking-- I don't have a story. And I hope I never have to. The point is, I will complete it. I'm running for those women who don't have a story. Hopefully, they'll never have to have one either.

There's still time for you to join our team. Or, if you'd rather sleep in and let me do the running for you, feel free to donate to a wonderful cause. If you've already donated, I am so grateful. Thank you.

Visit my personal page to sign up or donate today!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Calorie-counting Snack Time

I have recently started to keep track of how many calories I eat each day (thanks to Blake AND my Android phone's "Calorie Counter" App). It really puts things in to perspective...unfortunately.

On a rare food binge, Blake and I discovered that each yummy, flaky, delicious Red Lobster cheese biscuit contains 150 calories. (Our waitress tried to tell us it was 400, but the calorie counting app begs to differ.) Ugh--especially after eating one and a half of them... SO. Not. Worth. It.

Any way...the app takes all of the fun out of eating. Before I eat anything now I think to myself, "Am I going to feel ok about putting this in to the calorie counter?" If the answer is "no" I usually don't eat it.

To brighten up this Debbie Downer post, I thought I would share a snack I recently discovered-- Genisoy Sweet Crisps. According to the Genisoy website, "Most snacks are full of bad calories (unhealthy fats, cholesterol) or empty calories (no nutritional value). Its time to expect more from your snacks! Genisoy Sweet Crisps taste great and deliver protein, with no artificial ingredients or flavors. With 300% more protein than other crisps, Genisoy Sweet Crisps will give you the mental and physical energy boost other snacks cant." The Cinnamon Streusel Sweet Crisps are d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! And at only 90 calories per 10 crisps, they make a great afternoon snack and take care of that pesky sweet tooth.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A sisterly void

On April 2, 2005, I made a lifelong commitment to be "womanly and true" to the Sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma. It was a defining moment for me. I served as Panhellenic Delegate and the Chapter President. Both were rewarding experiences. Each presented challenges, but taught me something nonetheless.

I am coming up on two years since I graduated from UNT, but only recently have I felt the ache for sorority life. I suppose initially I was just missing the college life, but now that I am in Grad School, the void is Kappa. I am a member of the Austin Alumnae Association, and I have attended several Night Owl events as well as the Founders' Day dinner last year, but I find myself pining for more. What a relief it was to receive my dues statement. Yes, you heard correctly, I was excited to see that I owe money. And you want to know why? Because along with the dues statement came an opportunity to volunteer for all sorts of lovely things. Committees, event planning, advising...it was all there. And you better believe I checked off almost every box. Am I crazy? Perhaps. But am I thrilled to see where I will get to serve in the upcoming year? Absolutely.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Yoga-lovin' Baptist, Part II

Apparently this debate has me SO wound up that I thought it deserved a second posting.

On his website, Albert Mohler talks about the emails he is getting from Christian yogis. One of his "points" is this: "These souls claim to be Christian, but offer no biblical argument nor do they even acknowledge the basic fact that yoga, as a spiritual practice, runs directly counter to the spiritual counsel of the Bible."

Alright Mr. Mohler-- here you go. At the end of each class, my yoga instructor has us sit with our legs crossed, palms pressed together at the center of our chest. She bows and says, "The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste." Take a quick second to "Wikipedia" the term "namaste." It says, "I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me." It also can be translated as, "That which is of God in me greets that which is of God in you."

So, you want Biblical proof?

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

1 John 1:5 This the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Shall I keep going? Cause there are plenty more...

Does my yoga instructor believe in God? I have no idea. But does she judge her students faith? Never.

Albert. Al. Mr. Mohler-- get a clue. Ancient yoga practices have evolved. Welcome to 2010. As I stated in my previous posts, there are so many different types of yoga. Do not judge those of us who practice both Christianity and yoga. Believe me, it is entirely possible. And, to be quite frank, you're giving Southern Baptists a bad name. Please stop.
Namaste.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yoga-lovin' Baptist

Warning: This is a fairly religious post. I don't do them often, but this is something that has got me all wound up. Unfortunately, my yoga classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays...

I was irritated about a week ago when my Dad pointed out to me that by practicing yoga I am practicing Hinduism. (Side note: LOVE my Daddy.) I brushed it off, stating that he was wrong. I later found out that the sermon at my parents' church had been about just that the week before. I am sorry I missed it, because I would have gotten up and left in the middle of it. As many of you know I have been practicing yoga for almost a year now. I LOVE IT. I would go every day if I had time. I don't do chanting. I don't worship Buddha. What I do "do" is relax. Exercise. Take a moment out of my busy life to focus on myself. My breathing. Just being. I was even more horrified to see this headline on Yahoo today: Southern Baptist leader on yoga: Not Christianity. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Read the article here.

On his website, Mr. Mohler continues to defend his opinion, stating that he is getting hundreds of emails from Christians who are practicing yoga. He says, "The first lesson — count the cost when you talk about yoga. These people get bent out of shape fast." Ha ha. Isn't he funny? Not. The people contacting him are the prime example of how it is possible to practice yoga AND be a Christian. It's people like him that drive people away from church. He is passing judgement. I'm sorry, did your Son die on that cross? No? I didn't think so.

Let's recap. I was baptized and raised in the same church almost my entire life. My parents still attend the church (which will go unnamed for now) and I attend when visiting them. It is a Baptist church, with Southern undertones, for sure. I was disappointed to hear that such a sermon was preached there, but I know in my heart what yoga means to me.

So, if you haven't tried it, do not judge it. Every studio, every class, every teacher is different. keep going until you find one that makes you comfortable. I have, so let me know if you want to join. It works miracles for your mind, body, and spirit.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Disney debuts movie princess-inspired wedding gowns"

Alfred Angelo, known for his wedding gown designs, has teamed up with Disney to create a line of princess-inspired wedding gowns.


"You can actually dress like the Little Mermaid on your wedding day. Granted there is no aqua mermaid tail, but sea-inspired dress does have a mermaid-style cut, pearl beading, and sequin sparkles."

Read the full article and see the video here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gifts fit for a Queen...err, Princess!

So here is the first of my birthday recap posts...

This year I was reminded just how spoiled blessed I am. I was showered with gifts that were perfect for me. It's as everyone in my life thought of something that represented me best and bought it for me. Each gift was hand picked with thoughtfulness and love. I am just so thankful. Here a just a few of the highlights:

My Mom bought me the entire set of the Lilly Pulitzer Kappa bags that I blogged about previously. When I showed them to my mom originally, she said, "Which ones do you like?" My response was, "All of them." What I meant was I would be happy with any of them, but what she heard (and bought) was all of them.

My Dad, knowing my love for keys, owls, and fleur de lis (the blue, the blue, that's for me!) bought me a precious key necklace.

My sweet brother and sister, knowing my new passion for both running and yoga, bought me new running shorts and yoga pants.

My roommate, Becca, knows I love bows and Betsey Johnson. She not only surprised me with a decorated apartment and a birthday cake, she got me adorable Betsey Bow Earrings!

My cousins and my Aunt took time to attend my birthday dinner and gave me a fleur de lis wine bottle cork and a Little Mermaid Christmas ornament.

Jordan knows me better than I know myself on most days. I am proud to display the blue sea horse she sent me. It fits perfectly in my teal paisley/sea inspired bedroom!

I received cards, gift cards, lots of texts and calls, and even Tiff's Treats (Thanks, James.)! What a great reminder my birthday was of how many wonderful people I have in my life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ballet--I'm on my way!

I know, I know...I'm slacking on the birthday blog. I will very soon post pictures of my weekend long birthday celebration; however, I wanted to let everyone know that they can rest easy-- I just purchased my tickets to see The Little Mermaid Ballet in Corpus Christi in March. From the diagram it looks like my seats are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I can't wait.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quarter-life Crisis

John Mayer says it best: "It might be a quarter life crisis/Or just the stirring in my soul/Either way I wonder sometimes/About the outcome/Of a still verdictless life/Am I living it right?"

Today I turn 25 years old. I am a quarter-century old. It is a mixed emotion for me. Birthdays are great. For a girl that loves to be the center of attention, they're top-notch, really. (Ok, I just admitted that I love being the center of attention, I must be maturing...) However, this one is a big one.
 
I googled "quarter life crisis" and came up with the following definition from Wikipedia: "The quarter life crisis is a term applied to the period of life immediately following the major changes of adolescence, usually ranging from the early twenties to the early thirties."
 
It goes on to list the follow "characteristics" of the "crisis":
• realizing that the pursuits of one's peers are useless
• confronting their own mortality
• watching time slowly take its toll on their parents, only to realize they are next
• insecurity regarding the fact that their actions are meaningless
• insecurity concerning ability to love themselves, let alone another person
• insecurity regarding present accomplishments
• re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
• lack of friendships or romantic relationships, sexual frustration, and involuntary celibacy
• disappointment with one's job
• nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
• tendency to hold stronger opinions
• boredom with social interactions
• loss of closeness to high school and college friends
• financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unanticipated high cost of living, etc.)
• loneliness, depression and suicidal tendencies
• desire to have children
• a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than oneself
• frustration with social skills

Ok, so not all of them apply to me. I will say that probably more than anything, I have been experiencing the "nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life." I miss my Kappa sisters SO much. To open a ritual meeting as President again would make my day. My year, really. I would do just about anything to attend a date party, mixer, or formal. I also think back to my Senior year of high school. With Landon just months from graduating, it has really hit me how fast time is moving.

I guess the other big one that seems to "hit home" is financially rooted stress. Yes, I have plenty of college loan debt--and that's just from my Undergrad. Now, I'm working on my Master's. I don't love school, I just love debt. Not.

Luckily, I don't feel any older. And thankfully, I don't look any older. But the fact is, I am older.

With all of this negativity, I think it's time I thought about the great things about being 25. Well, the obvious thing is that I can rent a car without a ridiculous surcharge. My car insurance is cheaper. And...well, that's about it. 

So... Happy Birthday to me. Welcome to your mid-twenties, Lauren. It's all downhill from here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Race for the Cure 5K

I promised to write about something with a bit more depth than shopping, traveling, or TLM--so here it is!
This year I am running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Austin on November 7th. That's right, you heard correctly. Lauren is running. I'm doing it mostly to support Blake who lost his Mom to breast cancer a few years ago. I also love any excuse to wear a ridiculous amount of pink. What I don't love is running. I have started a nine week training program but I almost feel silly that I have to train to run just over 3 miles. But, I have never been a runner. I don't claim to have any running talent. It does not come naturally to me, so therefore I decided I wanted to prepare my body rather than surprise it come race day. I could almost hear my legs now, "Lauren! Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND?!" The program is fairly simple. It's called the Couch-to-5K Training Program. I am on week one, workout three. It gets easier each time I do it. I am hoping that come race day I can enjoy the run without  sucking wind three steps in.
To donate or join the team, please click here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TLM

Looking over my last few blogs I realized that I generally write about shopping, traveling, or The Little Mermaid (TLM). Well, this post is no different...

This morning I thought I'd take a little peek at what's going on in the Ticketmaster world. I selected Austin and surrounding areas and found what concerts, comedians, and sports are going on in the near future. Much to my surprise I came across this:

Concert Ballet: The Little Mermaid (Selena Auditorium At the American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas). Yep, that's right folks...TLM Ballet! I would like to say that on my calendar in November is a little note to check on tickets to the San Fransisco Ballet. They are also doing TLM. I am also still not-so-patiently waiting for the release of the tour schedule for TLM Broadway tour. I asked myself,  "Self, can there be too much TLM in my life?" And quickly I answered myself, "Heck no self!" So, when tickets go on sale on Saturday morning you can bet I'll be buying a couple. So, anyone up for see TLM in CC in March?



PS. I have depth. I am intelligent. Someday I might prove it in my blogging...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lilly Pulitzer + Kappa Kappa Gamma

I was doing some "googling" today and came across a treasure! Lilly Pulitzer designed a line of Sorority accessories. So far she has prints for Delta Zeta, Kappa Delta, Tri-Delt, and... KAPPA

Now, if only we could get our sister, Kate Spade, to do the same!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Betsey Johnson Experience

I failed to mention one very important tidbit from my Betsey Johnson experience.

As I made my way up to the counter to purchase my dress and shoes, I noticed a new shipment of jewelry being sorted and set out in the display case. It seemed to have a nautical theme-- fishes, anchors, coral, etc. I casually asked, "You don't have anything with a sea horse on it, do you?"

"Ummm, like this?" Sold.












"We also have this." Sold.













Well, actually, my sweet friend Kim was with me and insisted on purchasing the necklace for my birthday. She was also kind enough to let me take it home with me early! Needless to say, I floated out of Betsey Johnson with my dress, shoes, and bling in hand. (**Side note: that sea horse is wearing a blue bow...just sayin'...)

What is pink and sparkly and has a huge satin bow?

If you guessed, "Your birthday dress?" YOU ARE RIGHT!

Exactly one month from today I will be saying "goodbye" to my early twenties and "hello" to a quarter-century of life. Initially, I was devastated by this little fact. Weeks ago I thought to myself, "Ugh. Ick. 25." But, after a little consideration, I realized that 25 isn't all that bad. I have a great job, I'm pursuing my dreams and earning a Master's degree, I have wonderful people in my life... really, I am so blessed.

So, in good 'ol Lauren fashion, I decided that for my birthday I wanted to look like a precious, pink, sparkly cupcake... at 25 years old. I began my journey to find the perfect dress. I decided that I wanted to own my first Betsey Johnson dress. Her dresses are fabulous, but you really need an occasion to wear one. They are just too great for everyday wear.  As luck would have it, I found the dress. I won't reveal pictures (yet), but let's just say it is so "me." My good friend Kim is the only person who has seen it on me, and even she said, "You're the only person I know who could get away with this..."

I am so in love with it. I cannot wait to wear it next month. Here's a tiny sneak peak...my shoes.

Keep an eye out for your invitation...you don't want to miss this.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Buyer Beware...

It's that time of year again...TAX FREE WEEKEND! (August 20-22, 2010) That's right, all of the parents crazed by the thought of saving a couple of bucks and their equally crazy kids will be on the loose this weekend. If you are courageous enough to brave the treacherous conditions, take a moment to make sure your items are eligible so that you are blind-sided when you get to the register.

Just a little tip from one crazed shopper to another...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Christmas Ornament

I was walking through Hallmark the other day and wandered throught the Christmas ornament aisle. Yes, they already have them out. And, just my luck, I came across this little treasure:

Now, don't everyone rush out at once to buy it for me... 'cause I already bought it for myself.

The Little Mermaid + Sea Horse = Lauren's Dream Ornament

Now, if they would only post the tour dates for the off-Broadway Tour of The Little Mermaid...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hey, at least you know my hair is clean...

This morning as I was stepping out of the shower, I glanced around the corners of my tub and in my hanging shower basket and spotted the following:

As I told you in my previous blog on being a Beauty Non-expert, I tend to "collect" shampoo and conditioner. Really, I am just building my collection to prepare for Jordan's Christmas gift...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Needing a vacation after my vacation...

I have decided that weekend trips to anywhere outside of Texas are just not ideal in the ways of vacationing. As I posted before, the "W's" took Denver last weekend. Mom, Dad, Lana, and I drifted off to a peaceful sleep between midnight and 1AM thursday night...and we awoke at 3AM to head out to our early morning flight and whirlwind weekend.

We landed in Denver around 7:30AM and bussed over to get a rental car. That was an ordeal. We finally got it all worked out and drove off in to the sunrise to discover Denver. First we found ourselves at the US Mint in downtown Denver. The tours were full, but really Dad just wanted to hit the gift shop...

Next we ate a big lunch at Macaroni Grill before heading to Silver Plume, CO to take a ride on a steam engine train... as we walked up to the entrance, we heard a woman mutter, "Bummer." We didn't know what she was referring to until we got a little closer-- the train before ours derailed. What? Are you kidding me? DERAILED?! That can still happen in 2010?! Well, no one was injured and it didn't seem to bother the train station workers all that much, but it did mean that we had driven almost an hour outside of Denver for nothing. Lucky for us, Silver Plume is rich with decrepit antique shops and strange residents. So, we spent the next several hours exploring Silver Plume, CO and Idaho Springs, CO. We checked in to our hotel with about an hour and a half to spare before our dinner reservations at The Aquarium. We were all exhausted after having little sleep and being awake so long, but when there's an aquarium in the picture, I don't need much more motivation. Dinner was wonderful. The restaurant had such a fun atmosphere. They had these sea horse salt and pepper shakers on each table...Mom wouldn't let me steal them, but it turns out they sold them in the gift shop. (Mom told me later that she was plotting to take them if they weren't for sale in the shop...thanks Ma!) After dinner we got to walk around the actual aquarium. It was like heaven on earth. We did come across one tank where a sea horse was laying on its side. I panicked. I made my mom check to see if he was breathing...no sign of life. My heart was broken...until an aquarium worker happed to pass us. I asked her if he was ok and she replied, "Oh yeah, he's fine! We've had him checked out by one of our doctors (It had a fancy name, but all I could hear was "he's ok.") and he just likes being on his side." Two things: 1. Thank goodness and 2. I want to be a sea horse doctor! Anyway, the aquarium was great!

Saturday we awoke early to eat breakfast and walk the 16th Street Mall followed by the Denver Zoo. After another short rest, we gathered ourselves up and headed out to watch the Rockies/Cubs game.

It was a "quick and dirty" trip, but it was so nice to spend some time in 80 degree weather. But, there's no place like home!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nanny!

For those of you that knew her, you called her "Nanny." She was never "Mrs. Walden" or "Jean." To everyone she met she'd say, "Hi, I'm Nanny." Let me tell you a little story... everyone called her "Granny." But, in 1985 her favorite grandchild was born. I couldn't say "Granny" so I called her "Nanny" and her title was forever changed. I say I was her favorite, but she would only admit that to me. That's because her heart was made of solid gold. She didn't meet anyone that she didn't love immediately. I will take a second to say that I absolutely inherited that trait from her. I also inherited from her the desire to see the good in everyone. Nanny would have been 85 years old today. I very rarely have a day that I don't think about her. They say time heals all pain, but being without her never gets easier. I hope that the pieces of her that are part me never fade. Sometimes I worry that I'll forget what she was like, but the truth is...I'm so much like her that that may be impossible. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NANNY! We love you and we miss you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How do you translate a childhood obsession in to an adult one?

As previously stated, I am not a "collector" of "things." I hate to dust. (I love to vacuum, but that's neither here nor there...) When I was a little girl (so, like, last week...) I did , however, collect glass seals and sea lions. Yep, you read it right, no need to re-read...seals and sea lions. They sat on a brown bunny shaped shelf that my grandfather made me and each time I got an opportunity to add one to my collection, I would. I have always had a love of all things "sea." As a matter of fact, my all-time favorite Disney movie to this day is The Little Mermaid. L-O-V-E it. My dream as a child was to own an aquarium with a little seahorse I could call my own. My idol was Jacques Cousteau. Weirded out yet? It gets better...    

Now that I am an "adult" I have to find other ways to fill my obsession. I am only a teensy bit embarrassed to admit that I own about 3 shirts with some form of seahorse on them. (My coworkers are convinced that instead of screen-printed cats on my old lady sweatshirts, I will have seahorses...) Recently I purchased a pillow from Anthropologie that has a beautiful nautical theme and an even more perfect seahorse print. It sits proudly on my bed now and it was totally worth the ridiculous price I paid for it...


Anyway, I'm rambling. The point of this post is this: I ordered new stationery yesterday.
I  cannot wait to use it. It is being custom printed by http://www.katlemdesigns.com/. I highly recommend them. They do all sorts of custom printing and invitations and they are wonderful to work with! You can go to their website or you can find them on etsy.com. (Which is where I discovered them.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Life on the "A" List

Have you been on Austin360.com today? Did you happen to peruse though the Bobby Bones Show 2nd Chance Prom pictures? Well, I guess I should say--Did you look at the FIRST picture that comes up? I had no idea that this would ever been seen. I only knew about its existence because my friend Nick (far left) is an Intern for the Bobby Bones Show. He sent me a text this morning and told me to go to this link: http://galleries.austin360.com/gallery/bobby-bones-show-2nd-chance-prom/.


That half-naked man there is the "celebrity" Lunchbox from the Bobby Bones Show. I owe Stefanie big time for coming to the event with me, but now I owe her double since everyone we know is telling us that they saw our picture online!

In college Jordan and I always joked about me being an "A-Lister" and those of you who were part of that know what I'm talking about...looks like I finally (officially) made the list!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The W's take Denver

I love airports. I think there isn't anything sweeter than a tearful goodbye or a tearful "welcome home!"

I love to fly. I would love to spend some time doing George Clooney's job in Up in the Air just simply so that I could fly more often.

I am dying to travel. I would give my right arm to go to Costa Rica. Seriously. But, I have decided that dream has to be postponed until I finish my SCUBA certification. (Which I am currently working on.) I am also obsessed with the idea of traveling to Baltimore, MD and Boston, MA. Anywhere in the Northeast, really. Just let me go! I wish it were safer for a 5'2", 20-something female to travel alone. If that were the case, I would already be out of here.

My mom called me with excellent news two nights ago. We are taking a family trip to DENVER in two weeks! I have been to Colorado once many, many moons ago, and I am so excited to go back! We booked our flights last night so it is official! We have dinner reservations at the Aquarium (another obsession of mine) on Friday night and we are going to the Rockies/Cubs game on Saturday. This will be the second time we have gotten to fly as a family, minus one. Landon will not be joining us. He already had plans that conflicted, so we will be sad to be without him. BUT, I get to travel! I get to fly! I cannot wait!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beauty Advice from a Non-Expert (Take it, you'll thank me later...)

I don't collect gadgets.
I don't like trinkets.
They collect dust and cause clutter.

But, I do have a thing for collections, i.e. my shoe collection, my undergarments collection (if you're confused, read this...), my clothing collection...you get the point. One thing that few people know about me is my tendency to collect beauty products, namely shampoo & conditioner and mascara. In college, Jordan rarely (if ever) had to purchase shampoo or conditioner because I would buy one, use it until I got bored (yes, bored) with it, and then she'd have a new one. I still do this, only now the half-used bottles accumulate in my shower. Someday I plan to ship them all to Jo in California. (I'm thinking Christmas present...) And, as for mascara, I used to hate the stuff. Using it would make my eyelashes too long. They would bump my sun glasses, graze my upper eyelid, and mostly just annoy me. But, now that I am older, I love my long lashes. More importantly, I love buying mascara. I am a sucker for marketing tactics and promotional materials. Let's just say that I have at least 4 or 5 perfectly usable mascaras in my makeup bag as we speak, or rather, as I type. (Ladies, please remember that you should replace your mascara every 3 to 6 months. Mine obviously doesn't last that long...)I rarely wear make up these days, but I almost never leave the house without mascara on. Recently I have discovered one that I must share with my female readers out there: Maybelline Volume Express "The Falsies" Mascara. Buy it. You'll thank me later.



Also, I must share my newest beauty secret. About 3 weeks ago I had an Aveda facial. It changed my life. Again, since I have ceased to wear make up, my skin was in desperate need of some TLC. I treated myself to the facial and listened when my esthetician suggested I use the all-natural Aveda line. It took a few days for my skin to adjust to using a more natural product, but now I love it. I use the Botanical Kinetics skin care product line by Aveda. It's expenive, but buy it. You'll thank me later. Seriously.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grad School Characters

Every class has a few characters. I am a few weeks in to my first class in pursuit of my Masters and I have tagged the characters of my class.

Let's begin...
First, there's "that girl." You know, the one that is obnoxious, comes in late, has an excuse, knows everything. She is also the one where when her hand goes up, the whole class rolls their eyes in anticipation of what is coming out of her mouth next. Yep, I have "that girl" in my class. She wears too red lipstick and constantly refers to her husband, or being married, or planning a wedding. She found a way to compare writing a thesis (or in our case an APR) to planning a wedding. Really? Get over yourself. Last night, after walking in late and causing a disturbance, she proceeded to tell the teacher (and the entire class) that she was late due to a doctor's appointment. No one needs to know that. Seriously. We don't care and now we're annoyed that you've even opened your mouth.

Next, there's "sleeper dude." He snuggled up on the first night of class, front row, and passed out. He just finished his Undergrad last semester, so I assume his parents said, "Why don't you stay and have some more fun?" Since his performance on the first night, he has remained awake for each class thereafter; however, now he finds the need to over compensate by using words that are too big for him. Some of them he makes up and some are words but are used incorrectly.

And finally, there's "Carlton." Please tell me you remember the Fresh Prince of Belaire? Well, Carlton is in my class. Seriously. The best part is that "that girl" and "Carlton" are furthest along in the program yet they seem to ask the most ridiculous questions and have the most difficulty with the smallest of tasks. For example, we had a homework assignment out of our workbook. It was very simple. Read it and follow the instructions. "That girl" proceeded to ask, "which pages do I need to be reading?" To which I replied, "all of them..." It was not a hard task. Really. Just read your syllabus and it'll explain the assignment. Last night was even better. "Carlton" asked a question to which our professor responded, "well, like I said last week..." Then, much to my surprise (not) "that girl" raised her hand and asked for clarification. Again. Our professor responded, "again, like I said last week..." Really? REALLY? I am beginning to lose faith in the program. Do they let just about anyone in?

I was pleased to see my first paper received a 93 and my first assignment received a 100. I can do this!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Toy Story 3: A tearful review

Toy Story 3 is a MUST SEE! We had so much fun at the midnight showing last thursday night. The theatre was full of parents and TEENS, all in the 15-18 age range. My mom commented that they all grew up with Woody and Buzz. In the movie Andy is 17 and leaving for college...just like Landon will be at this time next year. Here are a few photos from the night...


I am sort of ashamed/embarrassed to admit it...but I cried at the end of the movie. Bawled, really. Like a child. But I couldn't help it. The end is just so touching and it made me think of my baby brother that is growing up so fast right before my eyes. What can I say? I'm a sucker...

I would like to say this: When I do themes. I DO them. Landon was all about having a Toy Story birthday, so I prepared for it by getting a TS cake, party favor bags, napkins/plates, etc. I brought it ALL in to the movie. I didn't even sneak it in. I clearly walked past the ticket guys holding a huge bag and a sheet cake. About 30 minutes before show time (11:30PM) the entire theatre broke in to the "Happy Birthday" song and sang to Landon. I lit all17 candles, against my brother's wishes. I cut up cake and served our party of 8 and then proceeded to pass it out to our fellow movie-goers. Let's recap: I brought in party favors, a cake, candles, a lighter, and a knife. I am a champ.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, baby brother!

Today I am wishing a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my favorite baby brother, Landon! Today he turns 17 years old and I can hardly believe it. I remember when he was born. I was so excited to be a big sister after eight years of being an only child. I loved for my mom to bring him up to the Elementary School so that I could show him off to my friends. He was my real, live baby doll!

He may or may not want me to share this, but when he was a toddler his favorite movie was Toy Story. (That's not the bad part...) He also loved to dress in character for whatever movie he was watching, so when we'd put on Toy Story, he'd get out his cowboy boots (for Woody) and a baby blanket, which he proceeded to tie in a cape-like fashion (for Buzz Lightyear). And his favorite outfit was a diaper. That's it. Boots. Cape. Diaper. (Don't worry, we have pictures to prove it!) Things haven't changed much...tonight, at midnight, we will be some of the first to see Toy Story 3 in 3-D. Landon hasn't decided what he's wearing yet. :)

I love you, Landon Forrest, and I am so proud of the young man you have become! Happy Birthday, baby brother!

"...He will show you which path to take..."

Just when I think I have it all figured out, something happens in my life that turns everything upside down. This has always been the case, which is detrimental to a "planner" like me. I always have a "plan," a "goal," an "end result" in mind. Sometimes it works out, but usually, it doesn't. This morning while doing my routine Facebook checking, I came across a Bible verse my cousin posted: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." - Proverbs 3:5-6

Boy, oh boy, did this ring a bell. Ding! Ding! Ding! Got it. I'm working on it...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Avoiding the Blog & Moving Forward

I've been avoiding my Blog for a couple of weeks now. That is what happens when your heart is broken. You avoid life, you avoid moving on, you avoid the memories...But, it's time to pick up the pieces and move forward. I forgot how hard break-ups are. To put it simply, they suck, really. So I won't focus on that.

But, what I will focus on is that I am officially a Bobcat! Yes, you heard right, I have traded in the Mean Green for some cute, furry paws. (Ok, I still love my Mean Green...) I started Graduate School last week. I am pursuing a Master's in Public Administration and I couldn't be more thrilled about it. I have no idea how long it will take me (I refuse to "map" it out) but I know that in the end it will be worth it.

My life is a bit crazy right now. I go to San Marcos on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-10pm for class, Tuesdays I coach Lana's summer volleyball team, and Thursdays I play in a volleyball league of my own. Oh, and did I mention I still work full-time?! Crazy. Just crazy. Life has really thrown me in to a tornado lately, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Oh, except maybe the heartache. I could do without that.

I will try to stop avoiding the Blog. I was talking with my friend Amanda at work the other day about my lack of blogging, which she is guilty of, too! So maybe we can hold each other accountable. Look for a Blog very soon on Landon's 17th Birthday!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Baby, oh baby!

Speaking of naming babies...It seems like they are popping up (or out, rather) everywhere! Just yesterday two very important men came in to this world.

Yesterday afternoon Noah Thomas Mills (7 lb. 10 oz.) was born to my very dear friends Erin and Cullen Mills. He is absolutely perfect in every way! He has long fingers and big feet, so there's no doubt in his daddy's mind that he'll be a star receiver before we know it!



And, yesterday evening, Drake Aubrey Young Ballew (6 lbs. 10 oz.) was born to my cousins Jason & Kelly Ballew. He is their second, his big brother Julien will be two next week. I don't have pictures yet, but I'll try to post some soon!

Congrats to the new parents!

Friday, May 7, 2010

What's in a (baby's) name?

Please allow me to step on to my soapbox for a moment...


If you have spent even a small amount of time with me, chances are you have heard me ramble on about how irritated I get with people and the names they choose for their babies. I encourage everyone to pick up the book Freakonomics (Levitt & Dubner) and read Chapter 6: Perfect Parenting, Part II; or, Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet? It will really open your eyes to the fact that the name you choose for your baby will be with them for the rest of their life and it could have detrimental effects! This morning I came across the article Isabella top name for girls; Jacob No.1 for boys on Yahoo. It made me a little sick to think that the top names for children were copied from the popular Twilight series; however, at least Bella and Jacob are fairly common and no one will ever have to know that their parents were victims of the Twilight saga. The part of the article that really struck me, and that is usually my point is this: "don't make the name a burden on your child." Jennifer Moss, author of "The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book" and founder of babynames.com also said, "Make sure the name can grow with your child and make sure they can live with it. Don't make it too cutesy because think, can it work in the board room? Can they be a CEO?"

I'm begging you, for my sanity (and your child's), please think twice before you name your child.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pajamas at 5:30

On Sunday night I was playing volleyball, like I usually do. I dove for a ball, like I usually do. And when I got up, I said, "it's ok, I didn't need that hip anyway..." Again, like I usually do; however, this time was different. When I woke up on Monday morning I was suffering with severe back pain. Luckily there is a chiropractor that frequently offers his services to those of us that work for Children @ Heart. I called him up and said that I would like to come for a visit. I went Tuesday afternoon and he did an initial exam. He requested I come back yesterday morning at 8am for my initial adjustment. He also requested I come back tonight at 6:15pm to review my x-rays and discuss my plan for care. I'm too young for this!

But, I used this temporary injury to my advantage last night. I skipped yoga and I got home from work around 5:30pm and immediately put on my pj's and got in bed! I stayed there all evening and it was glorious! I watched the movie Up in the Air, which I highly recommend. I enjoyed ABC Comedy Wednesday with The Middle, Modern Family, Cougar Town, and the final episode of Ugly Betty. I also watched Chelsea Handler on Chelsea Lately. I am so excited that tomorrow night at 8pm I will be seeing her in person with my wonderful friend Erin.

All-in-all I woke up feeling quite rested. Now if I can just get rid of this pesky back problem!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I almost forgot...

I have BIG news to report...

I completed my 50th workout last night! You might be saying to yourself, "50? That's it?" But that is 50 workouts in about 100 days. That's BIG for me. I am half way to my fitness goal of 100 workouts.

I must admit, I did slip once. I bought a blouse and a new pair of pants for work about a month or so ago...but I am happy to report that I bought a smaller size! If you're confused, you need to read My Non-Resolution Challenge.

It's paying off. Yoga, Cycling, Soccer, Volleyball, and Gym visits... 50 more to go!

Pat Green and Green Eggs & Ham

Check me out, I'm blogging again so quickly! I am very proud of myself.

Well, I promised details of the Pat Green concert and Erin's Dr. Seuss Baby Shower, so here goes!

Pat Green was great! If I might recommend some great music, check out Curtis Grimes! He opened for Pat Green and boy did he put on a show.

Erin's Baby Shower was a huge success! I was so worried that it wouldn't go as planned, but it turns out that it went off perfectly! Everyone had a wonderful time and baby Noah got lots of great stuff!



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Excuse me for NOT blogging...

Ok, I give up. I'm an awful blogger. I suppose if my life was exciting I would post more. Wait, my life IS exciting! Since it is now April 6th, I suppose I should do a quick overview of my life in the past two months.

Since my last post, I have:
1. Seen Lady antebellum in concert...twice! Once in San Antonio with my mom and sister and once at the Austin Rodeo with my family. Let me just say that the concert in Austin was WAY better than at the AT&T Center in SA. It was smaller, more intimate, and you could see and hear them so much better!

2. Taken two sewing classes at JoAnn's Fabrics. In my first class I learned how to turn on my machine. In my second I made an adorable pillow case which I gave to my sister.


3. Attended the annual Father/Daughter Valentine's Dinner at my church with my Dad and sister. Every year they say, "For girls ages 2-14" or something like that...I always go. I'm 24. Ha!


4. MOVED IN TO AN APARTMENT! Yes, after living with my parents for a little more than a year after I graduated, I finally have my own place! Well, I have a roommate, but it's OUR own place!

5. Registered for classes! That's right, I'm on my way back to school. I will be starting classes this summer at Texas State University in pursuit of my Masters in Public Administration!

6. Spent time with Jordan, Natalie and Stephanie! Jordan flew in from California, Natalie came in from Houston, and Stephanie lives in Buda! It was a reunion for sure!


So, see, I've just been too busy to blog. And that's just a quick overview. I don't feel so bad about not blogging...

Next up is Pat Green on Friday and Erin's Dr.Seuss Baby Shower on Sunday. Maybe I'll blog about it in a few months...